“Fell Tarn” would be fitting memorial to Wainwright

Date: Monday 10th April 2017

Sir, As the person mentioned in a section of your report on the recent Mallerstang Parish Meeting (“No decision on name for ‘lonely’ tarn”, Herald, 1st April) may I comment. At the outset I should say that I have no quarrel with the outcome of the meeting as it was a pure and simple exercise in local democracy.

However, that there was no decision on an alternative name gives me the hope, and I think that I can speak for those who were supportive of the initiative in the hope that the reasons why the name Fell Tarn was suggested may become more widely recognised and appreciated.

These supporters include Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Yorkshire Dales Society, Wainwright Society and Kirkby Stephen Walkers are Welcome group.

Alfred Wainwright (AW) is known to very many people nationally and internationally as the Lakeland fells guides writer and for his very popular coast to coast walk. But he was above all a lover of Westmorland, his adopted county for nearly 50 years, and especially the area around the Howgill Fells about which he wrote in his Walks on the Howgill Fells and Adjoining Fells published in 1972.

One of the walks is a circular one over Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell, and the tarn features on his map and in the illustrated diagram of the walk. In a discussion with friend and fellow lover of the area Ron Scholes (Walking in the Eden Valley writer) in 1983 they agreed that an appropriate name for this lonely tarn could be Fell Tarn, lying as it does between Swarth Fell and Wild Boar Fell.

AW was, above all, a lover of maps and a great admirer of the work of the Ordnance Survey. In his 1939 narrative (only published in 1986) of his 1938 A Pennine Journey long distance walk which took him along the Rawthey Valley close by, he says: “Give me a map to look at, and I am content.”

Later he was to say about the Ordnance Survey, “I admire their work immensely, being lost in admiration of all their work. Their maps are, as ever, my favourite reading”.

It is these expressions about maps and the OS that prompted the idea that a simple thing, such as the naming of this tarn, would be a totally appropriate way of commemorating Alfred Wainwright’s contribution to the life of Westmorland.

He is quoted as saying that his magnificent 1975 Westmorland Heritage, written as a farewell to the county following its absorption into Cumbria a year earlier, was his best work. If a change of mind were to be possible then “Fell Tarn” would be a simple memorial to an unassuming man. Yours etc,